Following many years of shifting cultivation practices, Yotoro Hill in Papua’s Jayapura Regency is in a critical condition. This has impacted Indigenous Peoples (IP) living nearby in Kwadeware Village, Waibu District, in the form of landslides and flash floods. In response, the women and youths of Kwadeware Village have taken action, by planting trees on Yotoro Hill.
Through the PERMATA programme, the Samdhana Institute has been supporting IP youth and women in Kwadeware Village, helping them learn how to make organic fertilizer (known locally as negentropy fertilizer). At least 2,000 kg of is needed to restore the fertility of Yotoro Hill's soil. So far, they have succeeded in making around 1,500 kg.
"We involve soil conservation experts to provide training to the youth here, including the deaf community in Jayapura, who are members of Menoken,” explains Samdhana Papua Coordinator Piter Roki Aloisius. “They are given training in making negentropy fertilizer," he added.
The fertilizer project forms part of wider operations, including the planting of 1,000 Moringa trees at Yotoro Hill with the Mamta Menoken Community on 26-27 August 2022. Roki noted that the Yotoro restoration movement began with a commitment from various communities in Jayapura during the Menoken activity in Mamta some time ago. "These Nokeners have pledged to not only carry out reforestation activities in Yotoro, but also in other areas that are in critical condition, such as in Henna and Hobong," he said.
With support from PERMATA, Indigenous women and youth in Kwadeware Village hope their tree planting activities can be scaled and help to increase soil fertility. In addition to increasing the nutrient content of the land around Yotoro Hill, these activities can help to mitigate erosion around Lake Sentani, thereby helping to prevent natural disasters.
"Yotoro Hill is one of the largest islands in Lake Sentani, which has been eroded by rainwater and lakes,” explains Roki. “Without any mitigation efforts the level of damage will get worse,” he added, noting that during the rainy season, high rainfall raises the water level. “As a result,” he says, “many houses in several villages on the outskirts of Lake Sentani were submerged.”
"This has happened several times and it has become a national disaster, so this has become one of the agendas in the signing event in Mamta," he added.
No fewer than 200 people attended this event. They included representatives from the GKI PAM Yonokong Youth in Kwadeware Village, Kwadeware Village Youth, the Papua Tour Guide Community, the Jayapura Deaf Community, the Fun Walking Community, and the Samdhana Institute; all of whom are members of the Menoken Mamta Community.
This activity was also well received by the natives of Kwadeware Village, who are already looking forward to seeing improvements. "I think this is very good, because the condition of Yotoro Hill is very arid and (this programme) brings many benefits,” said Tomotius Marweri, who is a native of Kwadeware. “With activities like this, we have helped to save the hill, so I am happy and I give great thanks to the Menoken community who have organised this activity.”
In addition to planting 1,000 Moringa trees, the Menoken Manta community and the local government of Yotoro also built a 400-metre-long cow barrier. This is expected to protect the Moringa trees in Bukit Yotoro from disruption by grazing cattle.
Looking to the future, the people hope that tree planting activities will continue and deliver positive results. The residents previously planted 300 Moringa tree seedlings in Yotoro Hill, of which only 50% survived. At the time, this was attributed to the poor quality of the soil. Now, with fertiliser in place, the people of Kwadeware and the Menoken Manta community have high hopes for their hill.